ST. PAUL, MN – With a key Senator leaving Minnesota without completing his legislative work, a large coalition of organizations is calling on Senate leaders to drop their threat of closing state parks starting July 1.
On May 4, 2021, Senator Bill Ingebritsen, lead Environment negotiator for Senate Republicans, confirmed publicly that he would hold up passing the Environment budget if the state continues to pursue giving Minnesota consumers more electric vehicle options through Clean Cars rulemaking. The Senate maintained this position even as the regular session ended, and refused to engage in further negotiations on the Environment bill, risking closure of Minnesota state parks on July 1 as well as funding for several state institutions, such as the Minnesota Zoo and the Science Museum.
While Minnesotans are not able to count on their state parks being open for their vacations this summer, the very person who has put these plans in jeopardy, Sen. Ingebrigtsen, recently flew to Alaska for a fishing trip.
Said Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, "Many Minnesotans don’t have the money to live on a lake or fly to Alaska to go fishing. Many Minnesotans rely on closer options for recreation, like visiting state parks, the Minnesota Zoo, the Science Museum and more. All of these more accessible options are threatened by Senator Ingebrigtsen’s inaction. Senate leaders are going on vacation while continuing to threaten our ability to vacation. They need to do their job and drop their threat now.”
While Majority Leader Paul Gazelka claims to want to avoid a shutdown, he continues to support the Senate Republican's Environment Chair Bill Ingebrigtsen, who maintains his demand that state parks close if Clean Cars rulemaking continues.
"Whether Sen. Gazelka threatens to close state parks himself or has Sen. Ingebrigtsen threaten state parks on behalf of their caucus, the threat remains," said Morse. "Senate Republicans push towards a shut down of state parks if they don't get their way on Clean Cars. The impact on Minnesotans is the same: we can't make plans to visit our state treasures just when we need them most. That's outrageous."
“Climate change is real and many Minnesotans have said they would like more choice when it comes to considering whether to purchase an electric vehicle. For Senate Republican’s Environment Chair Bill Ingebrigtsen to walk away from negotiations and head to Alaska to go fishing on vacation while threatening to close Minnesota State Parks is irresponsible,” said Peg Furshong, Director of Outdoor Programs at CURE in Montevideo, Minn.